Supplement Spotlight Deglycyrrhizinated licorice

The use of licorice root for medicinal purposes dates back thousands of years.

Licorice root is primarily prepared as deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). Today, many use this herbal supplement to heal gut problems. 

This article reviews DGL to find out if it may benefit you. 

What is DGL?

DGL is an herbal supplement derived from licorice root.

Different from the candy, licorice is an herb found in Asia, Turkey, and Greece. It contains an active component called glycyrrhizin. Consuming glycyrrhizin can result in negative side effects like elevated blood pressure, hypokalemia, salt retention, and muscle weakness (1,2).

Upon removing glycyrrhizin, the product is essentially side-effect free, with the new name deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL).

Find DGL in chewable tablet or powders or as part of other gut-healing supplement formulations.

Summary: DGL is an herbal supplement from licorice root to help improve the gut.

Uses for DGL

DGL helps heal ulcers, improves indigestion, and offers antimicrobial support.

Studies on DGL’s effect on digestive health are mostly from the 1980’s and 1990’s. 

Today, many naturopaths and functional medicine practitioners still use DGL despite the lack of recent studies.

Heal Peptic and Intestinal Ulcers

DGL protects against the formation of ulcers and inhibits H. pylori growth (4).

It increases beneficial mucous production, which protects the stomach and intestinal lining from acidic harm.

Clinical studies demonstrate DGL is an effective treatment to heal duodenal and gastric ulcers by itself or with antacids (3,5).

Additionally, when supplemented in combination with aspirin, DGL decreased stomach mucosal damage in rats (6)

Studies also show that DGL in mouthwash can treat and improve mouth ulcers (1).

Improve Indigestion

DGL can improve indigestion and upset stomach.

A randomized control trial of 50 adults supplementing 75 mg of DGL via GutGard for 30 days found a decrease in indigestion and an improved quality of life (7).

When in combination with other healing herbs such as peppermint and chamomile, the supplement Iberogast helps alleviate indigestion (7).

Antimicrobial Activity

DGL may improve mouth health through its anti-bacterial properties.

A 2012 study found that DGL had antimicrobial activity against bacteria in the mouth. The study suggests DGL may help oral hygiene products fight cavities and tooth decay (8).

Summary: Studies show that DGL helps heal ulcers, improve indigestion, and support oral hygiene.

Risks and Interactions

DGL interacts with very little medication and presents minimal, if any side effects

Keep in mind, licorice root causes many interactions with medications such as ACE inhibitors, loop diuretics, thiazide diuretics, corticosteroids, digitalis, antihypertensive drugs, and many others. However after removing glycyrrhizin, interactions abate.

Studies claim supplementing with DGL poses minimal risk. However, some doctors recommend checking your blood pressure, liver function, and kidney function regularly to ensure no adverse side effects occur while taking DGL.

Summary: DGL is very safe to use and doesn’t interact with medications.

How to Take DGL

Use DGL effectively by following these tips. 

  • Consider taking DGL if you suffer from ulcers or indigestion. Unsuccessful treatment with antacids, PPIs, or H2 blockers may also warrant a DGL trial. 
  • Utilize the deglcyrrhizined form of licorice to avoid harmful side effects.
  • Purchase a product from reputable companies to ensure ingredient purity. The FDA does not regulate herbal supplements, so products may contain contaminants. Here are some excellent options:
  • Chew DGL tablets 30-minutes before a meal or in between meals.
    • A study from 1975 found that for patients with intestinal ulcers, the most effective treatment was a chewable supplement on an empty stomach. 
  • For impact, take DGL in frequent doses. Specific dosing instructions are based on the ailment, but most use 300-400 mg per dose.
  • Speak to a medical professional before beginning supplementation.

Summary: Use a high quality chewable DGL supplement 30-minutes prior or between meals to help with indigestion or acid reflux. 

Should You Take DGL?

If you suffer from stomach or intestinal ulcers or indigestion, it’s safe and effective to use DGL.

DGL supplementation is an alternative to acid reflux medications or it can offer additional support to this care. It works by protecting and healing the digestive lining of the esophagus and stomach. It even helps support healthy microbial balance. 

If you are ready to get started with a supplement regimen, contact Erin today!


By Elise Deming, RDN, LDN @eat.with.elise